Spork: Not good if you eat out of bags. Happily Q had a 2nd Sea to Summit long handled spoon with him, which he gave me. Very useful and light at 13 g. Sea to Summit = Keeper, Spork = retired if I eat bag food.
Ti-Tri + Inferno: Didn't use it once on the whole trip, as I melted snow on the fire in my Tibetian Titanium 1100 pot. There was just no need for it, and I would leave it at home if I know I will be going to campsites. The pot was perfect, good size for melting snow.
Platypus: Two 1l bottles and the PlatyPreserve for the "Pepi". I borrowed a cozy which held the tea warm for a couple of hours, and if the water froze some massaging of the Platy always gave some water free.
Real Turmat, Travellunch: Both high quality food. Real Turmat slightly better, but at 8€ a meal I'm not sure if they will be the standard. Travellunch tasted good, and has a wide variety of meals for around 6€. If I have the extra cash I go for them, but Ramen and selfmade food taste as good, if not better.
Puukko & Kuksa: Both Keepers. Puukko so handy if you need to cut small pieces of wood to start a fire after your quilt collapsed, wouldn't miss it for anything. Kuksa isolates excellent and is easy to clean.
GoLite Ultra 20°: Fine till -10°C without a VBL, over that and it collapsed. My mistake, not going to take it if that kind of low temps could surprise me. Still top notch for the summer.
Laufbursche shelter: Slept only one night under it, but it was great. Easy set up, heaps of space, well-thought-out design. Might need to get a own one.
Petzl Tikka Plus: Gets retired. For winter you need a serious lamp, and the Tikka Plus ain't it. Some test lamps from Fenix and Princeton Tec coming in, expect a post in the coming weeks.
Julbo Dolgan sunglasses: The Anti Fog only worked half of the time, but otherwise I was glad to have them on those bright and sunny days. 33 g well worth to carry, but need to test them more.
Cyclone Buff & Merino Buff: Perfect for wearing during the day, kept me warm and dry. Wearing the Cyclone around my neck and up over the nose, and the Merino on top. Keeper.
Rab Microlite Vest and Klättermusen Loke: Great duo for wearing at camp and sleeping. No problems with being close to the fire either, the Loke can withstand some sparks without getting holes. Keeper.
Rab Momentum Jacket and Drillium Pants: Both great for when its windy and snowy, though I was able to get the eVent to the limit and had a bit of moisture build up, but when snowshoeing at -15°C that can happen. Keeper.
You already know that I liked the GoLite Pinnacle and the Woolpower gear, and expect a separate review of the Integral Designs PLQ jacket and pants. I will also give my thoughts on the Suntrica charger in the next few weeks. That's pretty much it what I had with me, most of it Keepers as you see, with some stuff needing more trail time.
So what about the stuff I didn't had with me? Well, a pair of VBL socks would have been a welcome piece of gear to have, because they keep your feet warm and minimize the danger of frostbite. An Cyclone buff for the neck and face also would have been useful, and probably more multiuse than a balaclava?
That was it. Questions, comments, observations, recommendations?
On the TUFWT 1.0 was carrying all my gear in a nice red GoLite Pinnacle backpack. Its the 2010 model, and it's awesome for winter backpacking - which was the reason I got it. My original plan of taking my Joutsen/ Tunturisusi sleeping bag asked for a big backpack to accommodate it, as my ULA Ohm isn't up to the task. And if even Andrew Skurka is taking a GoLite Pinnacle for his Alaska-Yukon-Expedition in the winter, I can't go wrong with it, surely.
Packed, and my snowshoes on the sides.
I have the 2010 model in Size L. This 72 l monster brings 974 g on the scale, and yes, I know that its more than the predecessor. But considering that I carry around 15 to 17 kg with it for a longer trip, I still find it's an acceptable weight. Plus, it has space-a-plenty for all that bulky winter gear to fit in. So, as I learned from Joe's fantastic Montane North Star review, I am giving you the photographic run down of all the details of the GoLite Pinnacle 2010, paired with my thoughts on the backpack. Click on the photos to see them bigger if the shown size is too small.
Close up of the double wishbone hipbelt. Also the ComPACKtor straps can be seen.
Shoulder strap detail.
Lets start with the back of the pack. It has a comfy backpanel made of mesh, with a removable back pad made of CCF. You can take it out in case you don't need it, I left it inside as I use the backpack as part of my sleep system under my legs, and so I get a bit more insulation. If you're inclined to take it out, it will save you 62 g. I haven't yet bothered with that for a trip, as I like the bit of stability and shape it gives me; though as I either way carry a rolled up CCF pad in there I could as well leave it out. You also got a internal hydration pockets with openings on the top left and right, as I don't use hydration bladders I can't comment on it, but its useful for flat stuff like maps and books to store.
The hipbelt is comfy for my slim frame and sits where its supposed to sit. The two hipbelt pockets are integrated and work well, the zippers are easy to open and close, even with gloves on. I have usually my firestarter kit in one pocket, and some snacks in the other one. You can fit about three normal bars in one pockets, which should be plenty. As you can see underneath, the shoulder straps do not connect to it, but are connected to the bottom of the backpack, this helps in my opinion to transfer the weight quite nicely. Finally, the shoulder straps. Also made of a soft mesh, they sit well on my shoulders, though on the last trip there were moments late in the day when they felt like they're cutting into my shoulders. They have a sternum strap with a whistle, which should be handy in emergency situations. I'd think it would be useful to engineer the sternum strap so that you can take it off and put it back on, so that's a suggestion for improvement. Furthermore, it also has a handle to grip it from, and from experience I can say that that's the right place to lift a backpack.
View of the hipbelt from the outside, mind that the shoulder strap connects to the little wing down on the left.
Load lifters and tube ports.
Props to GoLite to walk the talk and use recycled content in their 2010 backpacks and clothing.
As you might know, GoLite is now using recycled materials in their line. In the case of the 2010 Pinnacle that means Tier 1 recycled 210 Denier Nylon Gridstop + Dyneema, as well as Tier 1 recycled 210 Denier Nylon Double Ripstop. The quality of this material is as good as made from virgin material, but results in a 70% reduction in energy use and CO2 emissions for the recycled nylon, and even an 80% reduction for the recycled polyester. Way to go!
GoLite goes Green with recycled materials!
The gaping mouth that is the front pocket.
From the back we go to the front, where the Pinnacle has its huge front pocket. Its massive, and I carry my kuksa, puukko, spoon, toilet paper, first aid, hygiene bag, sunglasses, polar buff, snacks and food for the day in it, and there's still heaps of space. It gives me a way to store all the smaller pieces of gear as well as the stuff I need to have handy during the day. It also keeps the stuff inside dry, as no snow or water can get through - with a mesh pocket you'd need to think what can go in there. Love it.
Zippers on the front pocket. Easy to use also with gloves.
Side pockets. Plenty of space.
Bottom of side pocket, with drainage.
The side pockets are big, and stretchy. Fill them up with a Platypus, snack bars, and other things you want to have close by and ready to take without taking the backpack off. I can easily access them for taking stuff out and putting it back in. What I also like is that my snowshoes fit in the side pockets and can be fixated with the side compression straps, that's handy for when you don't need them.
The Pinnacle has a volume of 72 l which is massive, could fit twins in there and still have plenty of space (I don't advise putting twins in there. If you do, you do so at your own risk and on your own responsibility). I had gear for a week in there, and still had some space to spare. I reckon that a week or two of food should easily fit in their with your UL gear, so if you make longer trips further away this would be a great backpack. I got it because of bulky winter gear, like down clothing and my big down sleeping bag, for which it is made in my opinion. And once all your food is eaten, you can make the pack smaller with the ComPACKtor system; "Tada" and you got a pack roughly half the size.
Hydration sleeve, hook for valuables and the CFF pad pocket behind it.
Still not at the bottom.
ComPACKtor anchor and ice axe/ trail pole loops.
GoLite says it will carry up to 18 kg comfortably, I had close to 16 kg in it and it carried very well. The narrow and tall structure of the pack meant for me no excess width, easy maneuvering on the trail, and the before mentioned easy access to side pockets. You got extra space when you need it - start of a hike with plenty of food - and with the roll top closure and ComPACKtor system you can make it smaller while the journey continues. The material is sturdy, and I love the colour - its perfect for the autumn and winter in my opinion. It also has ice axe/ trail poles hooks and handle straps, so if you carry one or two of these there's a place to put them when they're not in use. And as you saw on the first photo, my snowshoes also can be fixated on them.
If you look for a new backpack for your winter adventures, or you're making your first steps in UL backpacking and need something lightweight yet durable with well-thought-out details, check out the 2010 GoLite Pinnacle. Ultralight Outdoor Gear in the UK already has the 2010 model, or check Bergzeit for the 2009 model. You could also check the GoLite website to find a retailer near you. They retail for 100€ to 150€, and you can find older models used for example here.
Finally I find some time to get a review out about the gear I used on the last trip, or in this case, since a lot longer. Back in September 2009 I got a nice package of Woolpower gear, and I have been wearing the contents ever since.
From Sweden with love.
The package contained a merino baselayer in 200 g/m² quality, consisting of a long john and a crew neck, as well as a pair of socks in the 400 g/m² quality. I have worn them since it got colder on every trip, sometimes to sleep, sometimes during the day, or as on the last trip, 24 h (ok, minus Sauna time =) for the whole six days we were away. I actually like it so much that I wear it also in daily life, as I don't belong to the segment of hip fashion folks who put looking good over being comfortably warm.
So what is there to report on the "Woolpower Merino Awesomeness"? Well, as you might know, merino doesn't smell. If you're only out for a night or two, that's an issue you can neglect, but if you're on the trail for more than that its good to know that once you come back into civilization that you're not smelling like crazy and people will walk a big circle around you. I have used synthetic baselayers, but since going for merino I will not look back, the no-smell factor alone is a winner for me. But there is more which speaks for merino, I find it is comfy on the skin and its obviously very warm. I do sweat quite a bit, summer as winter, so the warming while moist properties (Hygroscopic it's called) of merino are a further benefit which speak for it.
Outside of the Ullfrotté material.
However, and now comes the big twist, Woolpower garments are made of an material called Ullfrotté. Its basically a mix of merino with polyamide/ polyester and air. Yes, air. Like in the air we breath to stay alive. The secret is that the garments have a lot of what are called terry loops on the inside, and these are very lofty and thus trap a lot of air. Air is the thing you want to have around your body, as it retains your body heat, and Ullfrotté helps you with retaining that body heat. What is also nice about the Ullfrotté material is that it's Öko-Tex certified, which makes my environmentalist heart beat faster =) And being a mix of merino (usually around 70%) it has all of the above listed benefits.
Close-up of the terry loops of the Ullfrotté material, this is how the inside looks.
But where there is light, there is also darkness. The Ullfrotté material doesn't like velcro and similar materials, so keep it away from them velcro straps at all costs. Which I find easy as I really don't like velcro. And yes, that's honestly it if it comes to not so awesome things to say.
Another example of the terry loops and the outside.
You can notice the long cut of the crew neck in the back.
The long john weighs in mere 161 g in Size S. The legs have wide cuffs at the end, and on top you have a fly in case nature's calling. The crew neck is 173 g in Size S, and has the previously mentioned long cut back. It helps to avoid gaps between the two layers and also to keep your buttocks warm when you sit down. I like that. What's very special about the garments is that they are made in Sweden and that each garment has a label, which besides the washing instructions and size, bears the name of the person who made the garment. So for example my crew neck is made by Eleonor Lubell while the long john is made by Irene Wilhelmsson. In times of globalization where many companies produce in the Far East under very dubious conditions, I find this extremely praiseworthy and a great initiative of the Swedes.
Morning coffee in the sun.
I was so convinced of the Woolpower garments that for the winter I decided to get a pair of mitts, a balaclava, as well as 600 and 800 socks so I can dress in the Ullfrotté loftiness from top till bottom.
The mitts are 400 g/m² material, and are actually two mitts in one. I find them too warm when walking and only wore them in breaks or at camp, or while we were building the igloo. They kept my hands warm and dry, even without the eVent mitt I ordered to protect them. At 108 g for the pair they have an unbeatable warmth-to-weight ratio, if you have stood outside in the wind by -17°C there's nothing better than putting your hands in these mitts.
Woolpower mitts from inside
The balaclave is also of the 400 g/m² material, and again it was too warm for me to wear during the day (I run hot very easily). I wore it thus for sleeping, and again it kept me warm and comfy during the night. The 83 g it weighs I carry with gusto during the day, knowing that in camp and at night my brain won't freeze. I have tried to wear it on my training snowshoe trips when we had around -14°C and it was very windy, but still then its too warm so that I switch to my merino buff. The opening for the face is variable, you can either look like a ninja and only have your eyes free, or you can pull it down under the chin and look less dangerous. Down the neck it has two long flaps, which I usually put under the crew neck to avoid any exposed spots.
Woolpower 400 balaclava.
The socks weigh 72 g for 400 g/m² pair, which I wear from spring till autumn. The 600 g/m² socks are my day socks in winter (night socks in the summer) and bring 116 g on the scale, and I wear them together with a pair of liner socks which are 38 g for the pair. At night in winter I slip into my Woolpower 800 g/m² socks, and those are 184 g for the pair. I might update the post later on with a photo of all the socks, but this morning I didn't feel like walking barefoot in the snow with -11°C.
If I now sparked your interest, you can check the Woolpower site for a dealer near you. In Finland you also could go and visit Retkiaitta in Helsinki, they have it on the shelfs. Finally, if you're a shop in Finland looking to carry Woolpower, contact the nice folks at Berner Sport who will help you sort out getting the gear in your shop.
The Woolpower Ninja thanks you for reading this far.